Enough politics, already.
One day into Auburn – and to a lesser extent, Missouri – clamoring to jump undefeated Ohio State for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, the conversation has grown old.
This is not a discussion about which conference is stronger. Few will argue the Big Ten fields a stronger collection of teams than the SEC or, for that matter, the Pac-12. That is not the crux of this conversation.
Here’s the bottom line: When teams from huge BCS conferences go undefeated, they have every right to expect to be in line for a shot at the BCS National Championship Game.
If they play weak non-conference schedules and their conference is not particularly strong, they must accept the possibility that two undefeated teams from other BCS conferences could block them out of the title game.
What they don’t – and never would – expect is for an undefeated season to not be enough when stacked up against a one-loss team from a perceived stronger conference.
Take conferences, teams and brands out of the equation.
This is not a pro-Ohio State argument, an anti-SEC venom-laced tirade or an anti-Auburn/anti-Missouri screed. This is a real conversation about the state of college football debates.
The very self-serving, argumentative nature of college football creates a culture of coaches and high-ranking university administrators talking out of both sides of their mouths depending on the current season’s circumstances.
Believe it or not, the SEC hasn’t always been – and won’t always be – the consensus strongest conference in the nation. So just imagine the situation being reversed.
Imagine that undefeated SEC champion skating through a relatively easy conference season. Because of the recent strength of the league, said champion scheduled just one marquee non-conference game.
However, the season unfolded unpredictably, with games the SEC champ figured would be tough challenges – including the non-conference game – turning instead into blowouts along the way.
If the SEC champ, let’s just say Georgia, ran the table and won the SEC Championship Game, it would get first shot over all one-loss teams, right?
Consider, for a second, the revolution from SEC country if its champion got surpassed by any one-loss team for the national championship game.
It’s not Ohio State’s fault that the entire Big Ten fell apart this year. It’s not the Buckeyes’ fault that their best win, Wisconsin, faltered in the final week of the season. They had no way of knowing teams like Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State would be so much worse than expected. Heck, even the marquee game Ohio State scheduled – at California – fell apart after the Bears signed a home-and-home series.
All Ohio State could do was win all its games.
To this point, it has.
Missouri and Auburn – albeit against stiffer competition – did not.
This is not a case of the Mountain West champion going undefeated. It’s not a case of the MAC champion getting into the BCS National Championship Game.
The Big Ten, strong or not today, carries weight because of decades upon decades of championship-level play.
Regardless of modern college football history, it’s not a rite of passage for the SEC champion to automatically qualify for the title game.
Penalizing undefeated, major BCS champions for circumstances beyond their control can be accepted in the realm of choosing between three unbeatens. Freezing one of two major BCS champs to finish a perfect regular season out of the national title game simply isn’t right.
This isn’t about Auburn and Missouri. It’s not about Ohio State.
It’s about fairness in college football.
And it’s about time we drop the politics and look at things from a perspective besides our own.